Brexit: British holidaymakers in Europe face five-hour passport queues after no-deal

So far only Portugal has announced special measures for British travellers

Cathy Adams
Tuesday 26 February 2019 11:31 GMT
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British holidaymakers in Europe could face five-hour delays at passport control thanks to additional security checks in event of a no-deal Brexit.

According to a Which? Travel investigation, Spanish airports would be disproportionally affected given the high numbers of British arrivals. Alicante in southern Spain would be the worst affected, where 43 per cent of arrivals are British.

If the UK crashes out of the EU without a deal, Alicante would need the extra staff and resources to deal with an extra 201 hours of immigration checks every day, says Which?.

Tenerife South, Lanzarote, Malaga, Ibiza and Palma de Mallorca airports would also face “severe difficulties” if plans are not put in place to deal with these extra immigration checks. Amsterdam Schipol, Berlin Schonefeld and Budapest, as other airports with a high number of UK arrivals, would also be affected.

Currently, the only check that EU airport officials make on a British passport is that it belongs to the passport holder.

But from 11pm GMT on 29 March 2019, UK travellers will become “third-country nationals” and therefore subject to the standard rules of admission for citizens of nations such as the US, Japan and Australia.

The busiest airports in Europe for British arrivals

This means there is no automatic right of entry, and border officials may ask for evidence of “sufficient means of subsistence” for the intended stay and return – such as return ticket, accommodation reservations or an invitation letter to a conference.

The European Tourism Organisation estimated that these extra checks could take up to 90 seconds per person. Which? has calculated that it would take one passport lane in an EU airport nearly five hours to process a planeload of UK arrivals if no deal is put in place.

Portugal has already announced special treatment for British holidaymakers in the event of a no-deal Brexit, with dedicated passport lanes in Portuguese airports in an effort to minimise disruption.

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“Airports can be chaotic at the best of times, but if additional checks at passport control in Spain, Italy and other popular EU destinations are implemented in the event of a no-deal, it seems that very long queues are going to be an unwanted side effect,” said Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel.

“Until there is a deal or these airports announce simpler arrangements, you should consider what you may need if you have to fly to them – as it is very likely that you’ll be in a queue for several hours. Make sure you have food, water and essentials for kids like nappies to hand.”

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